The ovaries are extremely important organs that regulate sex hormones in women and manage the storage and release of eggs.  However, if a woman has cancer or a high likelihood of getting cancer, removal of the ovaries may be required.

What is it?

An oophorectomy is a surgical procedure used to remove one or both of the ovaries.  It is typically performed when a patient contracts some type of pelvic disease such as ovarian cancer.  Removal of the ovaries may also be a precautionary move if surgeons think it is possible for a disease to spread to other areas of the pelvis.

How to Prepare

The day before the surgery, the doctor may ask patients to drink medications to help clear the intestines.  Blood and urine tests may also be conducted in the weeks before the surgery.  CT, MRI, and ultrasound imaging tests will be performed to help surgeons visualize the ovaries.  Patients should be prepared for infertility following the surgery (if both ovaries are removed) and should consult a doctor if they experience problems becoming pregnant (when an ovary is left in place).

What happens during the process?

This procedure can be done laparoscopically or through open surgery.  Open surgery will require a much larger incision and tends to involve more bleeding.  With both surgeries, it is likely the patient will be under general anesthesia, although local anesthesia is sometimes used.  After making the necessary incisions, the surgeon will remove the ovaries and other organs if there are suspicions the disease has spread.  Depending on the surgery, it may take anywhere between one to three hours.

Risks and Complications

  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Failure to relieve pain in the pelvis
  • Rupture of a tumor, causing the spread of cancerous cells
  • Damage to surrounding organs


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